By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
“Anybody home? It’s Weaver from Bend PD.”
Bend Police and city staff went door to door Wednesday to about 70 illegal campsites in the Juniper Ridge area informing people they have 60 days to vacate the property to make way for the construction of a new sewer line.
“There are a lot of factors taken into consideration, not just the legal aspect but also the humane aspect,” said Jamie Gomez-Beltran, City of Bend property manager. “The idea is to get it right and do it in a humane way. It adds to the complexity of the project.”
Where they find people, city staff hand delivers notices to vacate and explains why campers must leave the property. They offer referrals to support organizations that can help find other places to live.
“Making sure they are aware of the resources. There’s currently a warming shelter but that’s only available through March 15,” said Bend Police Officer Kecia Weaver “The local shelters and other organizations that try to help people seek housing such as Neighbor Impact. Just trying to make sure they are aware of that and talk with them about transportation needs and how to make those connections.”
Where they don’t find anyone, notices are posted to be discovered as people return to their campsites. The notices are numbered so the city can keep track of which campsites were notified and when.
The numbered notices facilitate storage of personal property that may be left behind as people leave Juniper Ridge.
Some of the homeless in the camp understand the need to leave the private property, but feel like they’re being put in an even worse position.
“I’d really like the city to come up with some ideas where we could camp,” said Charles, one of the campers. “You know there are some of us out here who do work. We’re not bad people. We just got caught in situations. We’re not sure where we are going to go.”
The city anticipates a lot of personal property including broken down cars and RVs will be left behind. The city plans to store abandoned personal property for a time on Juniper Ridge to give people an opportunity to reclaim it.
“We already have one campsite that is in the process of being moved out,” Gomez-Beltran said. “That is a good sign. It tells us the city is following a good process. That the communication we have with the people is good.”
Gomez-Beltran believes the effort to humanely inform people of the need to to leave Juniper Ridge will work. He does not know how much it will cost.